Filipino 'prankster' steps into Edmonton's comedy spotlight

Filipino 'prankster' steps into Edmonton's comedy spotlight

His dad jokes have earned Joel Monbina a huge following in the Philippines.

Now the online comedy star is ready to make a name for himself in Edmonton.

Monbina — best known for his Internet alter ego "Pambansang Kolokoy"  — will be performing in the capital city for the first time Friday night.

The Filipino-born, American-based comedian has been hailed for his unusual brand of absurdist, slapstick-style humour. He often relies on his teenage son or his wife to play the ultimate "straight man" in his skits. 

Monbina built a following on YouTube, where has more than one million followers on social media.

'Crazy pranks' 

Roughly translated, his alter ego Pambansang Kolokoy means national prankster.

"They call it a crazy, funny person, or stupid," Monbina said with a laugh, during an interview Friday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"Someone gave the title to me and I thought it worked ... Filipinos like to watch something extraordinary, so that's what I gave them."

Most of his videos are in Tagalog, but some jokes are universal … including one time when Monbina enlisted his wife to wax (almost) his entire body for the benefit of his fans. 

"We do pranks. Me and my wife," he said. "Whenever we come up with something, we just surprise each other.

"Crazy pranks. Not to the point where we're getting hurt but fun."

Born in La Union a province in the Philippines, Monbina moved to the U.S. with his family in 1994. On a lark, he started making videos with his youngest son, Chris, in June 2015.

"We had about 10 views and we were already happy back then, so we decided to keep going." 

After a slow start, things started to take off a few months later, Monbina said. One of their very first father-son skits went viral. 

Since then, Monbina has earned a cult following and expanded his YouTube empire with three separate channels, launched his own online radio station and toured in San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Philippines and Hawaii to meet his fans.

"I didn't plan on making it to where I'm at right now. It did it because it was fun. My son was having fun doing it ... and here I am."

Monbina performs at the Panciteria de Manila restaurant at 12832 137th Ave. on Friday at  9 p.m.